Things are looking a little hairy this November and we aren’t talking Election Day, the onset of winter or Christmas creep.
We mean the beards, mustaches, goatees and overall facial hair sprouting from the manly faces all around us.
James Rock is one of the culprits, growing whiskers on his normally clean-shaven face as part of the annual No-Shave November campaign.
“My beard’s pretty nice already; it’s growing out pretty fast,” says Rock, of Chicago, who retired his razor Nov. 1 along with other members of the Weber State University rugby team to raise awareness of cancer.
Teammate Dalton Gullo of Hooper adds, “We’re all competitive, so everybody wants to see who grows the best beard.”
No-Shave November, a web-based nonprofit effort, is just one way gentleman embrace facial hair for a good cause; another is Movember, an international nonprofit organization that promotes growing mustaches to fight prostate and testicular cancer and promote men’s mental health.
The purpose behind each of the separate campaigns is raising awareness of health issues.
One in 8 women will get breast cancer but one in 7 men will get prostate cancer, says Kevin Donovan, business and community engagement manager for the United States office of the Movember Foundation.
The Australian founders of Movember wondered, back in 2003, “How come no one is talking about this? How come nothing is being done?” Donovan says in a phone interview from Culver City, California.
Brad Burk, a vice president for community engagement with the American Cancer Society, which partners with the private No-Shave November campaign, adds, in a phone interview from Indianapolis, “I think it really speaks to men ... I don’t think men have felt like they have had the same opportunity to rally together the way women have.”
Cut the razor
Count Hunter Peterson of South Ogden among this month’s whiskered ones. The Weber State University student says he has participated in the No-Shave November challenge for a few years with some of his friends in his hometown of Moab.
All the group members pitch in donations to the American Cancer Society, and the guys keep up with each other’s progress on Facebook.
“It kind of gives more of an awareness, very similar to the Ice Bucket Challenge for ALS,” Peterson says.
Sam Schweinsberg is growing a beard as well — he’s done it before during an annual contest at his Idaho Falls high school — but says he didn’t realize the popularity of not shaving in November was linked with a cancer fundraiser.
“That’s cool,” says the freshman at Weber State University who got an early start on his beard in October due to losing a bet.
Lots of folks jump into the no-shave movement but don’t realize the purpose behind it, says Burk, at the American Cancer Society.
No-Shave November — motto “Let it Grow” — originated with the Hill family of Chicago in 2009 as a Facebook fan page. Five siblings and their spouses wanted to help raise money for cancer awareness and research in honor of their father who passed away from colon cancer.
Participants were urged to donated the cost of razors, shaving cream or waxing appointments for the month of November to a cancer charity and to let their hair — which many cancer patients lose — grow “wild and free.”
Be a Mo Bro
In 2013, the Hills teamed up with the American Cancer Society as their official charity, Burk says, raising more than $200,000. So far, this year’s campaign has already brought in more than $400,000 and involves nearly 2,000 teams.
The campaign is a fun and masculine way to support a good cause, Burk says. If guys can’t grow a beard, or don’t want to, they can still make a donation or even sport some fake whiskers in a social media photo.
“As long as it’s raising awareness and raising money, that’s the main thing,” Burk says.
Movember — motto “Changing the face of men’s health” — is all about the mustache; no beards or goatees invited to this party.
Guys register online to be a Mo Bro (“mo” is slang for mustache in Australia) and must start out clean-shaven on Nov. 1. They pledge to groom and grow their lip hair during the month but also to “act like a true gentleman,” according to rules posted on the group’s website (www.movember.com).
Since 2004, Movember has raised more than $550 million and drawn more than 4 million participants, Donovan says. The funds are targeted for testicular cancer, prostate cancer and men’s mental health.
By changing his appearance, a guy will naturally get questions — “Why are you growing a mustache?” — which can lead to a conversation about the important health topics, Donovan says.
For years, the pink ribbon has been a symbol for women’s fight against breast cancer, the mustachioed Movember spokesman says.
“The mustache, for us, is our furry ribbon; men who grow that out and change their appearance, they become a walking, talking billboard for men’s health,” Donovan says.
He adds, “We’re asking real men to grow real mustaches for a manly cause.”
Marshall Konzen is part of a team of employees growing beards at Layton’s Stratford Insurance Group in support of No-Shave November.
“Everybody knows somebody, a family member or somebody, who’s had cancer,” Konzen says, and sporting the facial hair lets others know you’re supporting the cause.
As an added challenge, Konzen says he also decided to lose 50 pounds while growing his beard, so he won’t be shaving the hair off until he meets the weight-loss goal.
“I could be like ZZ Top by the time it’s all said and done,” he says.
At his Brigham City barbershop, Brent Wyatt says he notices men come in during November who “start looking a little scraggly.”
Part of it may be due to hunting season, he says, when many guys traditionally pass on shaving, but some of it is also that certain younger men, ages 25 to 40, just decide to forego shaving.
“A lot of them say, ‘I’m tired of this — I don’t want to do it every day,’” Wyatt says.
In the business community, it’s not uncommon to see younger men wearing 2 or 3 days beard growth, says Larry Crouch, membership director of the Ogden-Weber Chamber, whereas older guys like himself seem to prefer to shave every day.
Sticking it out
Gullo, a junior at Weber State, says he likes the idea of doing the challenge with other members on the rugby team. In October, he says, some of the team also wore pink at their games to support breast cancer awareness.
After No-Shave November ends, Gullo says his beard won’t be coming off.
“I’m an avid snowboarder so it keeps the wind out,” he says, not to mention, “I look like a little kid if I don’t (have a beard).”
Schweinsberg says he’s had a lot of reactions to his new look: “I’ve been told I look homeless multiple times,” he quips.
The only comments Rock has heard thus far are about how fast his beard is growing in. People tell him, “I saw you like two days ago and there was nothing. You were clean-shaven and now you have a beard.”
By the end of the month, Rock says, “Mine should be pretty solid.”